The patriarchy affects everyone.
Transgender people with uteruses have to deal with the stigma surrounding birth control, periods, and abortion. Transwomen face high murder rates and struggle with street harassment. Trans people who were assigned male at birth and present themselves in a more feminine manner experience society’s harsh enforcement of gender roles.
In these ways, all feminist issues are transgender issues.
Unfortunately, there are many feminists who disagree. TERF’s, or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, believe that to be a woman you must be born with a vagina and xx chromosomes.
While outwardly transphobic feminists are a large problem, trans people are subtly excluded by mainstream feminism as well. It seems incredible that a movement centered around equality could be so…well..against equality. Some of the worst hate speech comes out of the mouths of people who march for birth control.
You, seeing as you clicked on this article, are probably not a TERF. But there’s a lot more to being a transgender ally than not using transphobic slurs.
So, without any further ado, here are 5 ways to make your feminism more trans-inclusive:
Recognize and Understand Cisgender Privilege
The term cisgender simply means that the gender you were assigned at birth matches your gender identity. Cisgender privilege is the personal troubles you don’t have to deal with because you are not transgender. This can include not having to come out, physically transition, or legally transition. Not having cis privilege can make plenty of mundane tasks difficult as well, like using the restroom and dating. Here is a more thorough list of problems transgender people face.
If you are ever told to ‘check your privilege’, don’t take it as an insult, but as a reminder to take a step back and think about what you said from the perspective of a transgender person.
Having this privilege does not mean that your struggles are invalid. In a perfect world, transgender people would face no discrimination and there would be no cis privilege. That’s the world we should be working to create.
Take A Gender Refresher Course
Google definitions and stories trans people have put online. All the information you need is a couple clicks away. Before you hold yourself back for fear of saying or doing something offensive, google it. While you are looking things up, you might find you don’t understand why a person would identify in a certain way. That’s fine. Just know, you don’t have to understand someone’s identity to respect it.
Know The Terms
These are also just a google search away.
Unfortunately, most of the ways we describe being transgender are slightly offensive. Instead of saying “born a girl” or “biologically male”, try to use “assigned ___ a birth”.
There are tons of articles on how to approach subjects using the right terms, all you have to do is remember to use them.
Keep in mind, language is constantly changing. Just because a term is relatively new does not mean it is false. All language is made up, what it describes is not.
I went ahead and collected some articles that go over terms. Please, take a moment out of your schedule to go through some of these:
Use Trans-Inclusive Language
The language we use while slaying the patriarchy needs a little improvement.
Unfortunately, many feminist slogans center around biology. There is nothing wrong about shouting “Pussy Power”, but sometimes we talk about them as if all women and only women have them.
For instance, the hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods went viral a while back. The idea was to point out that periods would be taken far more seriously if cis-men had periods. Unfortunately, the hashtag does not mention the cis part, forgetting that many trans men menstruate. While the central message was sound, the way it was conveyed was unintentionally trans-exclusionary.
Not all women menstruate and not every menstruater is a woman. Unfortunately, feminists tend to use gendered language when protesting society’s view on periods. Don’t get me wrong, period products should not be taxed as luxury items and we need to start teaching about them in school’s, but we need to think about the words we use while fighting for that.
Don’t Just Talk The Talk: Take Action
Feminism is a form of activism and that means taking action.
An easy way to do that is with your vote. Support candidates with transgender-friendly agendas. Every vote counts!
Continue fighting for Planned Parenthood. PP is one of the few health organizations with transgender services. It’s incredibly difficult to find doctors trained to deal with trans patients and their specific needs, so it’s essential to keep places like this open.
Teach your children about gender identity while they are young and encourage your school district to put a non-discrimination policy into place that protects trans students.
There are plenty of ways you can change the world and make yourself an ally that’s just as bite as bark.